General Information

Officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa. The Gambia has a total area slightly less than that of the island of Jamaica.

The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.

Gambia has a tropical climate. climate in The Gambia closely resembles that of neighbouring Senegal, of southern Mali, and of the northern part of Benin.

While urban migration, development projects, and modernisation are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, indigenous forms of dress and celebration and the traditional emphasis on the extended family remain integral parts of everyday life.
English is the official language of the Gambia. Other languages are Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Serer, Krio, Jola and other indigenous vernaculars. Owing to the country's geographical setting, knowledge of French (an official language in much of West Africa) is relatively widespread.

Although the Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, its culture is the product of very diverse influences. The national borders outline a narrow strip on either side of the River Gambia, a body of water that has played a vital part in the nation's destiny and is known locally simply as "the River". Without natural barriers, the Gambia has become home to most of the ethnic groups that are present throughout western Africa, especially those in Senegal.

Europeans also figure prominently in Gambian history because the River Gambia is navigable deep into the continent, a geographic feature that made this area one of the most profitable sites for the slave trade from the 15th through the 17th centuries. (It also made it strategic to the halt of this trade once it was outlawed in the 19th century.) Some of this history was popularised in the Alex Haley book and TV series Roots which was set in the Gambia.

The music of the Gambia is closely linked musically with that of its neighbour, Senegal, which surrounds its inland frontiers completely. It fuses popular Western music and dance, with sabar, the traditional drumming and dance music of the Wolof and Serer people.

The cuisine of the Gambia includes peanuts, rice, fish, meat, onions, tomatoes, cassava, chili peppers and oysters from the River Gambia that are harvested by women. In particular, yassa and domoda curries are popular with locals and tourists.